THE Environmental Crimes and Incidents Hotline is a 24 hour hotline that has been operated by an independent operator for the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) since 2005. This hotline is the only reporting mechanism for violations of environmental laws that produce numbers that are published annually – in the National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Reports produced by the DEA in around November every year.

When you call this Hotline, all the details of your report will be taken by a trained operator, and you will be allocated a reference number for your complaint. You can also email photographs to be linked to the complaint. You can choose to remain anonymous. On receipt of a complaint, the DEA refers reports either internally, or to the correct national, provincial or local authority, for action. With your reference number, at least in principle, you are also able to call the line again for feedback 6-8 weeks later. Urgent reports are escalated to managers who contact the DEA directly.

These are the numbers of cases reported to the Environmental Crimes and Incidents Hotline in the past few years:

  • 2009/10: 389
  • 2010/11: 612
  • 2011/12: 708
  • 2012/13: 680

Given the relative obscurity of the hotline, it is likely that many other reports of violations by the state, parastatals and corporates that we all see on a daily basis, are either not reported at all, or reported elsewhere. However, the Environmental Crimes and Incidents Hotline is the only mechanism where reports of violations are centrally collated, counted and published. It is therefore a crucial avenue for citizens to contribute to a more accurate picture of environmental rights violations in South Africa.

The Centre for Environmental Rights therefore calls upon our partners, supporters and concerned citizens and groups to join us in a concerted campaign, starting today, to dial 0800 205 005 to report all significant environmental crimes and incidents. The problem does not have to be new or recent – you can report violations that have been ongoing for a long time, or that you have reported in the past.

To ensure that compliance monitoring and enforcement of environmental laws are escalated and intensified, government must allocate more money and more people for compliance monitoring and enforcement of environmental laws. Please join us in providing those numbers, and take the time to dial the Environmental Crimes and Incidents Hotline on 0800 205 005.